Sunday, June 19, 2011

Management Lessons from Tiger Woods

More Can be Learned When Performance is Below Expectations Than When It is Above.

In celebration of Mr. Rory McIllroy  who

won his first major championship by shooting a 2-under 69 at ultra-soft Congressional and closed his four-day onslaught at 16-under 268, eight shots ahead of Jason Day and four shots better than the U.S. Open scoring record formerly held by four players, including men named Woods and Nicklaus

The Dismal Political Economist wants to look at the Man Who Wasn’t There, namely Tiger Woods.  Mr. Woods had been the force in golf for over a decade, but lately has been a non-factor in the game.

Now Conventional Wisdom is that Management Skills can be gleaned by studying the habits and practices of winners, but The Dismal Political Economist thinks more can be learned from the habits and practices of people like Mr. Woods, men and women who are not performing up to par (pun intended).

Here are some of those lessons from the life of Mr. Woods.

  1. To Win the Game you need to Play the Game:  Mr. Woods is noted for his devotion to winning the major golf tournaments.  Consequently he plays in very few other tournaments relative to his peers.  It may be that Mr. Woods thinks playing in the Quad Cities Open in Moline, Illinois is beneath a golfer of his stature, but other golfers do not. They play in many more tournaments than Mr. Woods.
To win in Business Management, as in golf, you need to be constantly playing the game.  Otherwise   when you are called on to manage a big event (an acquisition, major capital project, integration of new markets etc) you are not likely to be ready.  Managers who take long vacations, serve on numerous boards and are distracted by the perks of the position seldom are long term achievers.

  1. Enjoying your work is not required, but enjoying your work makes you a much more effective manager:   Thoreau wrote

Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.

in Walden (a great management book even if it was not intended as such).  Tiger Woods clearly does not enjoy playing golf.  For him it is a job, it is work it is something he chose to do for glory and for money.  Compare his demeanor to the other golfers, who also play for glory and money, and who play because golf to them is fun.

A manager whose position is fun at least part of the time is much more effective than one who sees a job, and only a job.  It is a myth that a job can be all fun, or even a fun a majority of the time. (That’s why they call it work).  But the more a Manager enjoys the job, the more effective he or she will be in that job.

  1. Your Personal Life is Important:  Failure to manage his personal life has cost Mr. Woods much of his ability to win golf tournaments.  Failure to manage the personal life of a business manager will have the same effect on his or her managerial prowess.

  1. Be Gracious in a Difficult Situation:  Being charming and witty and congenial is very easy when things are going well.  Being that way when there are difficulties is a key to success.  Mr. Woods is known for not being gracious when he is not playing well. He clearly does not like being questioned, which is a part of his job. In contrast, Mr. McIllroy lost a big lead at the Master’s golf tournament, was open and pleasant afterwards, and now has gone on to win the next major challenge.

Mitt Romney was overshadowed by Sarah Palin’s bus tour when Mr. Romney made his announcement in New Hampshire that he was formally entering the Presidential race.  He was quiet and gracious about her remarks, and now leads in New Hampshire by a huge margin.   He was also subjected to withering criticism by not one, but two editorials in the Wall Street Journal. He wrote a gracious reply, and the criticism for now has stopped.

A business leader who can act in the same manner will be much more successful than one who cannot. 

  1. Know Your Physical Limitations:  Mr. Woods has performed admirably when injured, but that has resulted in more injury and less performance.  A simple management rule is appropriate here.  If you cannot do something, don’t do it.

No comments:

Post a Comment